Author Archives: Extreme Academy

Josh Coombes

Since the age of 7 Josh has been a kite enthusiast.

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You may recognise Josh if you’ve ever been for a lesson with Extreme Academy it’s very possible he was your instructor. But what you may not know if Josh is a professional kitesurfer, sponsored by both Extreme Academy and Flexifoil. Since the age of 7 he’s been a kite enthusiast, we caught up with Josh to see what he’s been up to.

How did you get into kitesurfing?

At the age of 7, whilst at primary school I found a huge passion for flying kites. Every Tuesday evening Dad and myself would head down to Watergate Bay to take part in the weekly Extreme Club event. Before I knew it, every bit of spare time I had was at the beach flying kites. I learnt on a small 2m Flexifoil Blade and progressed onto the LEI (leading edge inflatable) kites, which allowed me to kite in the water. Over the years I taught myself how to kite surf but there were definitely times I wished I had an instructor with me.

What does a normal year look like for a kitesurfer?

Some of the main kite locations in the world; Brazil, Spain, Australia and Africa have seasonal conditions, they get trade winds at certain points throughout the year which blow from AM to PM.   Luckily here in the UK that doesn’t happen, we can get wind all year round. It tends to be more favorable in the Winter due to the low pressure systems, but Summer can be great too. I do find myself jetting off to other locations throughout the year to find those trade winds, but it’s nice to know that when I come home there’s a high chance I’ll be kiting here too!

Best place you’ve kited and why?

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world and kitesurf many locations, I think the one that stood out for me was North Brazil. It wasn’t just the kitesurfing that made it special, it was the lifestyle. Waking up at 6am every morning, indulging in a healthy breakfast, allowing me to kitesurf throughout the day. The wind blew from the minute you woke up all the way through to last light. Perfect conditions with the choice of flat water lagoons and a 6km long beach break with lovely pealing waves. I definitely think I’ll be going back there either this year or the next, and to anyone who’s ever thought about it, I’d definitely recommend it.

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Josh Coombes – Picture Perfect (Watch in HD) from Josh Coombes on Vimeo.

Best achievement to date?

I think my best achievement to date was becoming an International Team Rider on the Flexifoil Team.

I like Being on the team alongside the likes of Aaron Hadlow, Forest Bakker, Craig Sparkes and many more, it’s a huge accomplishment for me. I was also part in the Virgin Kitesurf Crossing with Sir Richard Branson, having a lead role in the training for some of the team.

2013 saw the first ‘Legend of the Bay’ competition at Watergate Bay, a combined Kitesurf and SUP event, the first of its kind. I took part in the event and managed a very respectable 3rd, coming in behind Dom Moore and Neal Gent.

What are you aspiring to do?

As a sponsored kitesurfer, my goal is to push my riding and ability to the next level. As kitesurfing is still a growing sport, there’s always something new to learn. I’m a strong ambassador to my sponsors and try and help them out as much as possible.

I also teach kitesurfing, so teaching more and more people to learn the sport I love is what I want to do most. There’s nothing better than seeing someone get up for the first time, the smile on their faces is priceless.

And finally, if you weren’t surfing/ kiting, what would to be doing?

When I’m not at the beach kitesurfing or teaching, I like to go Mountain Biking. We’ve just had two new trails installed in Cornwall at Cardinham Woods and Lanhydrock. I’m also a keen rugby player, I play for Newquay Hornets 1st Team. Since a young age I’ve also had an interest in aviation, I love flying and one day I’d like to be a pilot.

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Mark ‘Egor’ Harris

Mark Harris, a.k.a Egor was born and raised in Newquay. With the beaches as his backyard he was destined to become a true surfing gent.

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What are you up to at the moment?
I am currently at home in Newquay, keeping busy! I’ve been getting in the sea a fair bit over Christmas and the New Year, I  was actually out back for an early surf at first light on New Years day as the waves were pumping! Huge Atlantic swell after huge swell non stop, but lots of wind and rain accompanying the swell. I’ve been doing a bit of fitness as well and my two year old boy keeps me busy also.

What’s the Mark ‘Egor’ Harris story?
With regards to surfing I had a couple of years stepping back from competing and ventured on exploration trips, finding world class empty waves in remote parts of the UK which was incredible! This led onto filming the ‘Endless Winter’ documentary, about the history of surfing in Britain and exploration .
Last year I got back into competing and felt the hunger! I had a good start to the year placing third at the English Nationals at Watergate Bay and eighth overall at seasons end of the UK Pro tour. This year I’m looking forward to going for some titles, starting, again, with the English Nationals at Watergate in May.

Where is the best place you’ve ever surfed?
I would have to say the best times I have experienced surfing were during my exploration trips where I ventured around the Orkney Islands off Scotland. We found waves as good as any where in the world with no one around for miles, such a buzz! Also the Mentawai Islands in Indonesia were postcard perfection, a surfers’ dream. But right up there was my first trip to Sunset Beach, Hawaii. i went to prove to myself I could surf all the iconic big wave surf spots I had stared at in surf magazines growing up; it was a massive learning curve.

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What’s your greatest surfing achievement to date?
Surfing wise, representing my country several times at the World surfing games in junior and mens division. Winning the British title in great conditions at my local, Fistral beach, in front of my family and friends was also amazing. I’m also proud of the commitment to exploring and finding new waves myself and a few friends have done the past few years. It showed how much potential there is on our shores.
But being a father to an extremely happy two year old who is thriving in the world feels great.

What’s next for you?
This year I’m aspiring to win the English Nationals in May at Watergate, that would be a great start to the year. And afterwards win the UK Pro Tour for the second time .
Also I have some trips planned to travel to uncharted surf territory in the UK and find some world class waves to document. I’m hoping it will inspire people to get out and explore our beautiful coastline in Britain wherever they are.

If you weren’t surfing what would you be doing?
Growing up in Newquay it’s hard to imagine not surfing or doing some activity to enjoy our beautiful coastline. I have a couple of friends from school who are now great musicians, and learning how to play an instrument is something I want to make time for. I did love rugby at school and had a good side step, but I’m not sure how far my sparrow legs could have taken me in the game!

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Harry Timson

Harry Timson – an 18 year old surfer from Cornwall.

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Watergate Bay has been Harry Timson’s local surf break for as long as he has been surfing. Prodigiously talented on a board, Harry is already making a real mark on the world surf circuit, often winning titles against surfers who are much older and more experienced than himself.

We caught up with Harry to see what he’s been up to and where he’s been…

How did you get into surfing?
I started surfing when I was three years old, my dad pushed me into my first wave at Watergate Bay and from that moment on I’ve been hooked. I started competing in my teens and since then I’ve won four British titles and even competed in the adult open category at the World Qualifying Series in France.

What does a normal year look like for a young surfer?
I spend most of the year in France, training and doing photo shoots in preparation for the European Pro Junior Tour which takes place throughout Europe. But when that finishes I feel to more tropical waters, such as Indonesia, to tackle the big waves and film a few bits for movies and magazines. And then I do it all over again!

I’m currently in Sumbawa, which is a couple hours from Bali, training for the contests which will take place in the summer months in France and Spain. I love training here because you don’t have to worry about getting cold and the wave quality is a lot better, producing bigger and more powerful waves.

I recently suffered an ankle injury which put me out of the water for a month so I’m focussed on training as much as possible to be back on form. I surf at least two to three times a day, stopping only for food and water.

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Harry Timson | Black | White from LIGHT COLOUR SOUND on Vimeo.

Where is your favourite place in the World to surf?
My favourite place to surf is without a doubt Lakey Peak, Sumbawa, Indonesia. The waves are perfect, almost as if they have been made by a machine – they are constant and defined. You couldn’t ask for more!

To date, what is your greatest achievement?
For me, my greatest achievement would have to be winning Aerialist of the Year 2012. As a kid I always wanted to master airs as I grew up watching surfers like Reubyn Ash and Alan Stokes reach huge heights. When I won the award I was made up as it showed all the wipeouts and hard work had paid off.

If you weren’t surfing what would you be doing?
I’m not sure to be honest. I guess I’d do something close to surfing. I’ve always enjoyed skate boarding and have also skated since I was about three and won a few skating competitions. So that’s the answer, I’d be a skater.

What’s next for Harry Timson?
I want to be able to make a living from surfing, be it through competitions or free surfing, making videos around the world. It’d be incredible to do something I love as my full time job.

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We can guarantee you’ll be seeing a lot of Harry in the future, on websites, in magazines and in the line-up for major competitions – this guy is really making waves (excuse the pun, couldn’t be helped).

The history of Watergate Bay

Watergate Bay Hotel

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Built in 1900, Watergate Bay Hotel was originally intended to serve as a railway terminus hotel for a proposed Newquay to Padstow branch line, but the railway never came. During the Second World War, it became an RAF Officers Mess and was later converted into married quarters, but fell into disrepair during the 1960s.

John and Mary Ashworth bought the Watergate Bay Hotel in 1967, initially running it as self-catering flats. The Ashworths converted the premises back to a 55 bedroom hotel in 1971, adding an extension to include a living area and restaurant. It was successfully run as a seasonal family hotel for the traditional bucket-and-spade holiday for many years.

Also in the 1970s one of the UK’s first skate parks opened at Watergate Bay. The concrete bowl was popular among skateboarders of the era including Nigel Semmens.

The Beach Hut & Extreme Academy

In 1999, John and Mary’s middle son, Henry Ashworth, developed the hire shop into The Beach Hut restaurant and Extreme Academy sports school. His vision was to create a ‘ski resort on a beach’, to make Watergate Bay a place where people could get active amongst the elements one minute and then relax and eat good food the next. Somewhere to hang out.

Extreme Academy’s sports schools transformed the beach into a mixture of classroom, playground and the wild outdoors, all year round when before people only came to the beach in the summer. Offering lessons to those who wanted to try new sports or improve their skills in a range of activities including: surfing, waveski, traction kiting, kitesurfing, standup paddlesurfing and hand planing. 2010 saw Extreme Academy sports school completely rebuilt to include heated changing facilities with hot showers, and a new booking and equipment hire office.

Located right next to the sand, The Beach Hut has stunning views across Watergate Bay from both the indoor tables and from the decked balcony that runs around the restaurant. Open 365 days a year, the menu runs from breakfast to mid morning coffees, lazy lunches and afternoon cakes, through to dinner. Daily specials reflect the best of Cornish seasonal produce and the iconic Extreme Hot Chocolates are worth a visit by themselves.

Over the years The Beach Hut has been transformed from a single story building into a two stories. In 2006 Fifteen Cornwall moved into upstairs and The Beach Hut became one level once again. The storm of March 2008 played havoc with Watergate Bay and the restaurant found itself underwater. Since then we’ve build a new sea wall and The Beach Hut got a whole new look.

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The Living Space & Swim Club

In 2004 Will Ashworth took over the running of the hotel from his parents, John and Mary. The same year, the hotel embarked upon a four phase redevelopment, which transformed the hotel over the course of the next eight years. The regeneration of Watergate Bay Hotel created the Living Space which opened in 2005 and Swim Club which opened in 2012.

Only accessible to hotel guests and members Swim Club offers exclusive use of the lower-ground of The Living Space. The Ocean Room has commanding views of the Atlantic and serves coffees and cocktails, beer, wine, spirits and patisserie from the café bar. The ethos is aprés ski by the beach.

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Fifteen Cornwall

May 2006 saw the addition of Fifteen Cornwall to Watergate Bay, transforming the second floor of The Beach Hut into the second Fifteen restaurant in the UK. The restaurant has achieved huge success and has trained over 140 apprentices to date.

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We are now in 2013 and developing some even bigger and better plans for the hotel. Stay tuned for our dining room project!

BSUPA event round up

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Last weekend, Extreme Academy hosted the fifth British Stand Up Paddleboard Association (BSUPA) National Championships at Watergate Bay.

Over the two day event 53 SUPs from around Britain, Australia and Hawaii competed to become the 2013 National SUP Champion. Competitors from as young as 11 had 20 minutes per heat and a maximum of 12 waves to impress judges with their SUP wave riding skills.

Competitors were judged on their board handling skills in both the transition and surfing phase of their performance; radical controlled maneuvers; innovative/progressive surfing; variety of maneuvers and negotiation and use of the paddle.

Conditions for the event were near perfect according to event organiser Richard Marsh, with 2-3ft of swell and moderate wind allowing competitors to really flaunt their talent on the water.

Check out all the action of the weekend in this video made by SUPBoarder Magazine.

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Judges were really impressed with the level of skill and technique shown throughout the competition and after scoring each contestant drew the final results:

Under 16 Girls

1st Holly Bassett
2nd Bethen Richardson

Under 16 Boys

1st Louie Harrow
2nd Guy Bridge
3rd Ollie laddiman
4th Fin Gamblin

Open Ladies

1st Holly Bassett
2nd Maria Buchanan
3rd Abi Barker Smith
4th Joanna Ibrahim

Open Men

1st Matt Barker Smith
2nd Arron Rowe
3rd Tom Lowe
4th Glyn Oven

2013 Watergate Bay Waterman – Matt Barker Smith

2013 Watergate Bay Waterwomen – Holly Bassett

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Photographs by BSUPA/Bob Berry/Rob Jewell/This is Newquay Cornwall

Surfing in Autumn

Surfing is the most popular wave riding sport on the planet and we have one of the finest surfing beaches in the country right on our doorstep.

Autumn is a great time of year to get into the ocean and learn to surf; forget about the cold, the sea is actually pretty warm throughout the autumn months as it has been warming up all through the summer, but we can provide full winter kit just in case.

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Conditions are perfect for surfing at this time of year. Easterly winds are blowing in making the surf clean, consistent and easier to ride. In autumn the beaches, and therefore, sea is also quieter giving you the space to learn in your own time and without the fear of dropping in on an unsuspecting swimmer.

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Watergate Bay is a great place to learn to surf. Our two mile stretch of sandy beach hosts Extreme Academy, one of Britain’s leading venues for beach sports and events. Extreme Academy is a specialist school for surfing, kitesurfing, waveski, hand planing and stand-up paddlesurf. Whether you are experienced or a complete beginner they are sure to have a lesson to suit you.

Extreme Academy’s main priority, besides getting you riding the waves like a pro, is to make sure you have fun and enjoy your surfing experience and we can guarantee that you will!

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If you are a beginner surfer check out our top ten surfing tips.

Calypso soft drinks have created a great surfing infographic, so whilst you are waiting for the day of your surf lesson to roll round you can learn some gnarly surfing facts.

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BSUPA National Championships

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Hosted by Extreme Academy the fifth British Stand Up Paddleboard Association (BSUPA) National Championships will take place over the weekend of 4th to 6th October at Watergate Bay. Britain’s best stand up paddleboarders will head for the waves to compete for the title of National SUP Wave Champion.

Stand up paddle boarding is the oldest form of surfing and has been described as a cross between canoeing and surfing. Riders stand up on a large style of surfboard and use a single bladed paddle to steer, turn and propel themselves through the water and onto waves.

With autumn swells predicted to hit the Cornish coast, conditions could see waves of up to 6ft. Competitors will be judged on their style and how they ride the waves much like a surfing competition but with scores taking into account how surfers make use of the paddle.

The national championships will comprise of four categories: open men, open women, U16 youth boys and U16 youth girls.

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BSUPA event director Richard Marsh said: “This year’s competition is wide open. Whilst there are names we know, there’s a very strong chance that someone unknown could tear apart the fleet and take the championship. It will definitely be quite a show for spectators.”

Locals Adam Zervas and Dom Moore – who won the Legend of the Bay competition back in May – have been out in the bay a lot, so I would definitely think they were strong contenders for the title.”

To find out more information about BSUPA visit: www.bsupa.org.uk.

The event is free to attend.

Sandball at Watergate Bay: tournament review

On July 27th Newquay Handball Club hosted Cornwall’s first ever handball, or Sandball, tournament at Watergate Bay and what a day it was. Four teams competed to become Sandball champions!

Each stage of the tournament proved to be hard fought, with each team giving it their all until the very last minute to move onto the next phase. The tournament consisted of a group stage, followed by a 3rd/4th playoff, then the final.

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Lee Springlett lead his team to the top of the group, after producing a penalty shootout victory over Geoff Muskett’s team. Third place in the group went to Team Adolf, fourth to Team Eddie after a penalty shoot out where Eddie, of Team Eddie, narrowly missed scoring the winning goal when the ball hit the post.

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Final time; Team Geoff versus Team Lee. Team Geoff were out to win, winning both halves of the match meaning a 2-0 victory and title of Sandball Champions 2013!

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Sandball is a fast, furious and fun sport to play, but it’s great for spectators too because at the heart of Sandball lies showboating. Extra points are awarded for goals involving 360 spins, flips, tricks and any other extravagance. If you’d like to join Newquay Handball Club then head over to Porth Beach on Thursday nights and get stuck in.

Photography by Helen Muskett

Hand planing with Extreme Academy

Hand planing – a turbo-charged version of bodysurfing

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Hand planing is a means of bodysurfing; using the small plane to lift yourself in the water and ride the waves to the shore line. It’s an easy sport to learn but can take years of practice to become a master and perform some of the more difficult techniques. Hand planing is an infectious sport; it gives a real adrenaline rush that’ll keep you coming back for more.

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How to get started

Firstly get along to the Extreme Academy for a hand planing lesson.

Stage one
Walking into the water and understand how to catch a wave without the use of planes, surfboards or any other equipment. It’s just you and the waves.

Stage two
Use a hand plane (either hand) and stand in waist deep water and It’s time to catch your first wave. The hand plane gives you elevation on the wave which helps you see where you are going, gives you directional control, and helps with positioning.

Stage three
Out to sea! You’ll now be moving into deeper water and body surfing on bigger waves. Here we add fins for extra propulsion and to assist in directional control. This is it; you’ve hit the big time! In the deeper water you’ll be shredding the face of the waves, reaching high speeds and confirming that you are now addicted to hand planing.

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Hand planing tips

Timing is everything and you learn that through practice.

Plenty of leg work is involved to propel you forward to catch the wave, wear fins to add extra oomph! But don’t forget to wear wetsuit socks for comfort.

The best position is in the pocket of the wave – where the green face meet the white water – this is where the wave is at its most powerful.

Use your free hand to trim, balance and lift, this meas you’ll have more control in the water

The hand plane gives elevation whilst the other hand is balancing your body.

You can hand plane in all conditions. The main difference is the power of the wave and more physical effort needed when the waves are smaller.

Hand planing is a great cardio vascular work out as your metabolism works at a greater rate but without using excess energy.

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We love hand planing at the Extreme Academy as you are in direct contact with the waves’ energy which feeds into your body making for a truly exhilerating experience. We run two hour lessons at £20 per person, or you can hire all of your equipment from the Extreme Academy hire shop infront of the beach.